Grand Prix Bochum
Coverage Day 2

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  • by Frank Karsten
    Cool Plays
    The Many Uses of Rancor

  • by Oliver Gehrmann
    Feature Match Round 15
    Benjamin Paulmeier (Red Black) vs.
    Martijn van der Vaart

  • by Frank Karsten
    Nivmagus Elemental Aggro with Petr Brozek

  • by Tobi Henke
    Build Your Own Monster

  • by Frank Karsten
    G/R/B/U Nightshade Peddler/Izzet Staticaster

  • by Frank Karsten
    Feature Match Round 14
    Martin Brenner (Green-White Aggro) vs.
    Guillaume Bourdinaud (Mono Red Aggro)

  • by Frank Karsten
    "Hoof, there it is" with Martin Juza

  • by Tobi Henke
    Blue-White Delver of Secrets

  • by Oliver Gehrmann
    Feature Match Round 13
    Felix Fromm vs. Lukas Jaklovsky

  • by Frank Karsten
    Sunday, 2:44 p.m.
    Disqualification at Grand Prix Bochum

  • by Tobi Henke
    Quick Question
    What Number of Thragtusks Do You
    Expect to Be in the Top 8?

  • by Tobi Henke
    Feature Match Round 13
    Jonas Zimmermann vs. Lukas Tajak

  • by Tobi Henke
    Quick Question
    What Deck Should People Absolutely
    NOT Play at the Moment?

  • by Frank Karsten
    Sunday, 11:17 a.m.
    Day 2 Metagame Overview

  • by Tobi Henke
    Feature Match Round 11
    Martin Jůza (GWB Craterhoof Behemoth)
    vs. Daniel Antoniou (Naya)

  • by Tobi Henke
    Quick Question
    What Was the Most Surprising Card
    (or Deck) You Saw This Weekend?

  • by Tobi Henke
    Sunday, 9:45 a.m.
    Day 1 Undefeated Deck Lists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet


  • Sunday, 9:45 a.m. – Day 1 Undefeated Deck Lists
    by Tobi Henke

  • Now that was unexpected. And I'm not even talking about the Nightshade Peddler/Izzet Staticaster concoction built by a team from Hamburg (including PT Kobe 2006 champion Jan-Moritz Merkel). That's certainly interesting and unexpected; I never foresaw this one deck in particular going 9-0. But one innovative brew is hardly a trend.

    What I find even more exciting are the others. Two (very similar) green-white beatdown decks and one deck that's essentially White Weenie (with a blue splash). No Reanimator and "only" four copies of Thragtusk. Maybe the influx of the instant-based blue-white tempo decks kept Thragtusk in check but were in turn bested by Thalia, Guardian of Thraben? That may be a new trend indeed.

    Maximilian Kuntze (9-0)
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    Simon Díaz (9-0)
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard


  • Sunday, 10:10 a.m. – Quick Question
    by Tobi Henke

  • What Was the Most Surprising Card (or Deck) You Saw This Weekend?

    Stanislav Cifka: I know everything ... But two days ago was the first time I saw this Nightshade Peddler/Izzet Staticaster deck.
    Martin Jůza: Nightshade Peddler.
    Emanuel Sutor: I played (and lost) against Red-White Humans.
    Lukas Jaklovsky: I didn't expect Pyreheart Wolf but that's probably just because I'm not as familiar with the format as I should be.
    Olivier Ruel: I played against Jan-Moritz Merkel who played, uh, I'm not actually sure what that was, but it did have Nightshade Peddler.


  • Feature Match Round 11 - Martin Jůza (GWB Craterhoof Behemoth) vs. Daniel Antoniou (Naya)
    by Tobi Henke

  • Both of these players had already been in the feature match area yesterday, apparently with good reason, as they both went victorious then. Now, with both at 9-1, only won would walk away a winner.

    Game 1

    Jůza opened on Avacyn's Pilgrim and Lingering Souls, while Antoniou just had a couple of lands (some entering the battlefield tapped) and made his first move on turn three: a rather unprepossessing Selesnya Keyrune.

    Meanwhile, Jůza had Mulched into two extra lands and two copies of Unburial Rites. He also had gotten in a couple of points of damage via Lingering Souls tokens and now made a Somberwald Sage, which immediately got stuck under Antoniou's Oblivion Ring.

    Daniel Antoniou

    A second Somberwald Sage met a second Oblivion Ring, but all the while, Antoniou could never develop any sort of board presence of his own, and tokens plus Avacyn's Pilgrim constantly nibbled away at his life total. To make matters worse, Grisly Salvage found Gavony Township which boosted Jůza's team and put Antoniou at 8 already.

    Thragtusk made that 13, Gavony Township plus tokens turned that to 7. Another Thragtusk switched that back to 12 again, but now Jůza made four more tokens via Lingering Souls and once again activated Gavony Township. Jůza did hesitate about this line of play for a second. He was exposing himself to a topdecked Bonfire of the Damned pretty badly, but there was nothing he could do about that anyway. Antoniou didn't have it, though, and that was that.

    Martin Jůza 1-0 Daniel Antoniou

    Game 2

    Both players started on acceleration, with Farseek for Antoniou, Avacyn's Pilgrim into Lingering Souls for Jůza. With four lands untapped on Antoniou's side, these tokens didn't dare to attack, and indeed Antoniou did have Restoration Angel at end of turn.

    Martin Jůza

    Jůza summoned Thragtusk and lost it to Selesnya Charm, but not without getting a 3/3 token as corollary. In total he now had two flying 1/1 tokens, a 3/3, and Avacyn's Pilgrim to Antoniou's lonely Restoration Angel. Antoniou appeared to be heavily flooded on lands, whereas Jůza once again had Gavony Township. Turn after turn, the mighty Township amassed more and more +1/+1 counters. Soon Antoniou was forced to chump-block and then he couldn't even do that anymore ...

    Martin Jůza 2-0 Daniel Antoniou


  • Sunday, 11:17 a.m. – Day 2 Metagame Overview
    by Frank Karsten

  • Marijn Lybaert and I have made a metagame breakdown of what the field looks like here today. What made it into Day 2? Take a look!

    G/W Aggro 31
    Jund 22
    Zombies 19
    Bant Control 18
    Reanimator 17
    U/W Flash 16
    Mono Red Aggro 16
    U/W/R Geist Midrange 15
    U/W Aggro 10
    Esper Control 6
    G/W/B Tokens 5
    U/W Delver 4
    Naya midrange 3
    Hexproof Bant 2
    Hoof, there it is! 2
    Staticaster/Peddler Jund 2
    White Weenie 2
    U/W Control 2
    G/R Midrange 1
    G/W/B Midrange 1
    G/W/R Aggro 1
    R/U/G Soulbond 1
    U/W Nivmagus Elemental 1

    So that's 16% G/W Aggro, 11% Jund, 10% Zombies, 9% Bant Control, and 9% Reanimator together making up over half of the field.

    Some of the archetype categories above are a little broad. For those of you interested in more fine-grand descriptions:

    • The 31 G/W Aggro decks were comprised of 20 relatively standard versions, 7 Human-themed featuring Champion of the Parish and/or Mayor of Avabruck, and 4 slightly slower versions with Armada Wurm.
    • 19 Zombies player almost all went for Black-Red, as only 3 Zombie players ran a Black-Green variant.
    • The 17 Reanimator decks were comprised of 7 Green-White-Black builds, 6 versions with Red for Faithless Looting, and 4 versions with Blue for Tracker's Instincts.

    Besides these more conventional archetypes, there were plenty of spicy brews around. You see the "R/U/G Soulbond" category above? Well, that refers to a deck that not only features the Izzet Staticaster / Nightshade Peddler combo but also the Deadeye Navigator / Zealous Conscripts / Gilded Lotus infinite mana combo! (All that mana can then be put to good use by either blinking Zealous Conscripts to steal the entire opponent's board or by blinking Huntmaster of the Fells to gain infinite life.) It's essentially the same deck that Conley Woods featured in a Daily Deck List piece, so be sure to check that out to see a fun and innovative deck that is now competing for a spot in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Bochum.


  • Sunday, 11:46 a.m. – Quick Question
    by Tobi Henke

  • What Deck Should People Absolutely NOT Play at the Moment?

    Stanislav Cifka: You can play whatever you want as long as you're comfortable with it and know how to play it. The format is so diverse that sooner or later you're going to come across some deck you don't know, so it's even more important to know your own.
    Martin Jůza: Mono-Red. There are too many Thragtusks and Centaur Healers. What people should play, by the way, is a deck that's able to finish a match in 50 minutes.
    Emanuel Sutor: Jund is terrible, as are all the other midrange decks like Naya which can't really go over the top.
    Lukas Jaklovsky: UW Flash.
    Olivier Ruel: Pretty sure Merfolk is not a good choice at the moment.


  • Feature Match Round 13 - Jonas Zimmermann vs. Lukas Tajak
    by Tobi Henke

  • In this all-German feature match Lukas Tajak, playing UW Delver, met Jonas Zimmermann, playing BUGW Reanimator. Both were 11-1-1, but still the atmosphere was remarkably relaxed. The two friends spent the pre-game shuffling discussing their plans for the evening.

    Game 1

    Zimmermann led with Deathrite Shaman, Farseek, and Forbidden Alchemy, while Tajak had Delver of Secrets-turned-Insectile Aberration, followed by Runechanter's Pike. Thought Scour, Unsummon on Deathrite Shaman, and Inaction Injunction on a freshly-summoned Thragtusk put four instants into Tajak's graveyard. He equipped and attacked for 7.

    Zimmermann (now at 11) had a second Thragtusk (16) and threatened to re-play Deathrite Shaman and reanimate Craterhoof Behemoth next turn via Unburial Rites for a total of 27 damage (with Tajak at 15).

    Jonas Zimmermann

    Tajak cast Swift Justice, boosting his equipped Insectile Aberration to 9/2. Life totals became 24 (Tajak) to 7 (Zimmermann).

    Zimmermann went through with the previously announced plan and attacked for 27. Tajak had Restoration Angel which absorbed 4 points of that, surviving on 1 life exactly, then his Aberration finished the job.

    Jonas Zimmermann 0-1 Lukas Tajak

    "This Swift Justice ..." Zimmermann muttered, shaking his head. "Yeah, that one won a lot of games already," said Tajak. "A really good card."

    Game 2

    Tajak led with Delver of Secrets which again transformed immediately. "Sick!" Zimmermann commented.

    Zimmermann got rid off Insectile Aberration with Supreme Verdict, then had another Supreme Verdict for Tajak's Geist of Saint Traft. Trading one for one, however, had left him low on cards, and another Farseek and Deathrite Shaman weren't exactly threats.

    Lukas Tajak

    Tajak had Restoration Angel, Snapcaster Mage, and Runechanter's Pike and continued the beatdown, bringing Zimmermann to 6, before a third Supreme Verdict cleared the board once again.

    Yet another Snapcaster Mage picked up where the other one had left off (picking up Runechanter's Pike) but now Zimmermann had an uncounterable Angel of Serenity thanks to Cavern of Souls. Tajak took care of that temporarily with Azorius Charm, then Moorland Haunt and Inaction Injunction allowed him to push through the final damage.

    Jonas Zimmermann 0-2 Lukas Tajak


  • Sunday, 2:14 a.m. – Quick Question
    by Tobi Henke

  • What Number of Thragtusks Do You Expect to Be in the Top 8?

    On Twitter, Kai Budde set the over/under for this weekend's Top 8 at 16.5 copies of Thragtusk. Do you take the over or the under?

    Stanislav Cifka: Under. Though it's not easy. It's either 16 or 20.
    Martin Jůza: Over. It's going to be either 20 or 24.
    Emanuel Sutor: Over but not by much. 20 maybe.
    Lukas Jaklovsky: Five people so, uh, 20 Thragtusks.
    Olivier Ruel: Under, definitely. One or two weeks ago, 16 may have been correct, but the emergence of UW Flash made Thragtusk a lot worse. I'd go with eight.


  • Sunday, 2:44 p.m. – Disqualification at Grand Prix Bochum
    by Tobi Henke

  • In round nine yesterday, Robert Jurkovic was disqualified for stalling. Being 1-0 ahead, Jurkovic had no winning option left in his deck in the second game, but he did have an Emblem from Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. He used the ability to repeatedly cast spells without any influence on the game, even going so far as to countering his own spells.

    He performed all his actions in a timely manner, apparently working under the assumption that physical lack of speed was the only mark of stalling. Head judge Frank Wareman clarified, however, "Players are expected to advance the game state. Playing just to advance the clock is most definitely not okay."


  • Feature Match Round 13 - Felix Fromm vs. Lukas Jaklovsky (Hoof, there it is!)
    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Facing each other in round 13 are Felix Fromm from Germany and yet another Czech Pro Tour veteran who has been making a strong presence at the top tables so far, Lukas Jaklovsky. Jaklovsky's sleight of hand trick couldn't fool Fromm, who correctly predicted where he hid the coin, allowing the German to go first.

    Game 1

    Fromm immediately announced that he was fine with his opening 7, indicating a strong opening hand, while Jaklovsky took a mulligan. He didn't seem too happy with the six cards he got, but he decided to keep them regardless.

    Not surprisingly, Fromm didn't waste any time, making the first play with Avacyn's Pilgrim. Jaklovsky couldn't quite match it, only dropping a land.

    Fromm's Rancor made Jaklovsky's token seem irrelevant!

    Fromm cast Lingering Souls on his second turn thanks to some help of Avacyn's Pilgrim while Jaklovsky missed his land drop! When the Czech didn't draw into a land on his following turn, he wasted no time accessing his sideboard.

    Felix Fromm 1 – 0 Lukas Jaklovsky

    Game 2

    Both players kept their opening hands this time. Jaklovsky kicked things off with Temple Garden while Fromm had Avacyn's Pilgrim together with a Forest.

    Hallowed Fountain and an Avacyn's Pilgrim marked Jaklovsky's second turn, while Fromm upped the ante, tapping Avacyn's Pilgrim to power out Loxodon Smiter on his own turn two!

    Jaklovsky tried to fight back with Lingering Souls.

    Fromm dealt some damage courtesy of his Loxodon Smiter that didn't get blocked, thanks to the Rancor that made sure Fromm would always get some damage in.

    Fromm's Rancor made Jaklovsky's token seem irrelevant!

    Tracker's Instincts made Jaklovsky decide between Craterhoof Behemoth and Somberwald Sage and he picked the former, telegraphing a big play in one of the following turns! Next, he went in with his two tokens, dealing 2 damage, and a Somberwald Sage concluded his turn, giving away his plan for the turn to come.

    Loxodon Smiter dealt another 6, leaving Jaklovsky on a dangerously low life total. Fromm followed it up with a second copy. He was left with 2 cards in his hand and play was back to Jaklovsky, who was now finding himself in a rather desperate spot. He still had one out, however.

    Fromm's Rancor made Jaklovsky's token seem irrelevant!

    He did some math to confirm it, dropped another land, cast Craterhoof Behemoth with the help of Somberwald Sage and then, after some consideration, he figured he had to go all in, tapping all his creatures!

    "Just show me," Jaklovsky requested. Fromm didn't disappoint, flashing Selesnya Charm. "Good luck," Jaklovsky said, extending the hand.

    Felix Fromm 2 – 0 Lukas Jaklovsky


  • Sunday, 2:59 p.m. – Decktech: Blue-White Delver of Secrets
    by Tobi Henke

  • Blue-White Delver, the bane of last season's Standard format, is back! In recent weeks, UW Flash decks had already started to incorporate a lot of the cards responsible for its remarkable success before the rotation (Thought Scour, Runechanter's Pike) and replaced those that didn't make it past the rotation (like Vapor Snag with Unsummon). And now, with less Pillar of Flame in the top decks, even the namesake of old, Delver of Secrets, made its comeback.

    A team of German and Austrian players including former Rookie of the Year Lino Burgold, Platinum pro Thomas Holzinger, PT finalist Andre Müller, and GP finalists Wenzel Krautmann and Emanuel Sutor all chose to pin their hopes on Insectile Aberration for this Grand Prix. And as of this writing, Lukas Tajak was still in contention for Top 8 with it. Sutor had built the deck weeks ago, and tuned it both on Magic Online and with the help of four-time GP Top 8er Jonas Köstler.

    "Right after Return to Ravnica was released, the format was cluttered with clunky control and midrange decks, thanks to Thragtusk, with every deck trying to one-up the others. In that environment, I figured Delver of Secrets should still be viable," said Sutor. "Obviously, the deck was going to be less powerful and less consistent, what with the loss of Ponder, but the other decks were much slower too.

    "And it turned out, Delver was indeed still viable. On Magic Online, the deck performed extremely well. For a time I had a win percentage of about 80. I showed the deck to Jonas, Lino, and Thomas, and they were able to duplicate my results too."

    "With Runechanter's Pike you can't run more than 21 lands, because, without Ponder, you need to have at least 22 instants to reliably transform Delver of Secrets. So we went looking for additional cantrips, and found Fleeting Distraction. We also considered Inaction Injunction, Feeling of Dread, and at one point even Crippling Chill. Holzinger still had Inaction Injunction, and Müller was running Feeling of Dread. All of these take out Thragtusk temporarily and allow Geist of Saint Traft to get in additional attacks. In the end, we went with two additional Swift Justices, which are obviously great with Geist, but also for example when Insectile Aberration faces off against Restoration Angel, or when Angel fights Angel," Sutor explained. "Also, the card is great against aggressive decks, thanks to lifelink and because it allows you to keep racing.

    Lukas Tajak, Thomas Holzinger, Emanuel Sutor, Wenzel Krautmann (L-R)

    "Spectral Flight may be the most important sideboard card. With that, Geist keeps being relevant, even a real menace, against creature-heavy midrange decks, which is really important because we're not set up for the long game.

    "Overall, the deck has been the nuts, until Adam Prosak's UW Flash deck really caught on and people started to include as many copies of Cavern of Souls as their manabase could make room for. We only have six counterspells, but being able to pinpoint one at Thragtusk or not being able to do that sometimes makes all the difference."


  • Sunday, 3:01 p.m. – Decktech: "Hoof, there it is" with Martin Juza
    by Frank Karsten

  • Czech pros Martin Juza and Lukas Jaklovsky are playing a sweet deck today. At first glance, it may look like just another Reanimator deck, but a closer look reveals that it is not even playing the full playset of 4 Unburial Rites. In fact, it contains no reanimation targets except for 4 Craterhoof Behemoth! Here, take a look.

    Martin Juza - Hoof, there it is!
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    The dream is to go turn 1 Arbor Elf, turn 2 Lingering Souls, turn 3 Somberwald Sage, and kill on turn 4 with Craterhoof Behemoth. "It happens a lot," Martin said. "Craterhoof Behemoth can kill people out of nowhere, and it's easy to find with Tracker's Instincts."

    A card that has raised many eyebrows is Somberwald Sage. "People are picking it up, asking me what this card is, what it does, and whether it is even legal. In the end, they realize they have no idea what I am playing, and that has definitely been an huge advantage for me."

    When asked how the deck came to be, Martin explained that he got it from Brad Nelson. Martin had helped tweaking the deck, talking to Brad every day, and changing some of the cards around, but it was Brad and the StarCityGames crew who invented it.

    Next, I asked Martin which decks he would like to be paired against. "Blue-White Flash is basically unlosable", he said. "You have so many good cards against them; Deathrite Shaman and Lingering Souls in particular are very hard for them to deal with. The Reanimator matchup is also very good. Deathrite Shaman can remove their threats, and with the mana boost provided by Somberwald Sage you can come over the top with Craterhoof Behemoth before they start casting relevant spells. You don't want to sideboard anything against Reanimator at all."

    When asked which cards he did not want to face with his deck, Martin mentioned Jace, Architect of Thought; Olivia Voldaren; and Supreme Verdict. "But once we added Gavony Townships, we could beat those cards as well. Jace's -1 effect is negated entirely by Gavony Township. The land also helps my creatures survive against Olivia Voldaren and forces my opponent to pull the trigger on Supreme Verdict when facing a board of only 2 creatures."

    Next, I took a look at Martin's transformational-style sideboard, and I have to say that I'm thoroughly impressed. "Against Blue-White decks with Supreme Verdict, you morph into a Thragtusk / Restoration Angel / Loxodon Smiter deck by taking some of the mana guys and the Unburial Rites (anticipating them to board Rest in Peace). You also bring in the big cards against Jund to sidestep Slaughter Games and stuff like Rolling Temblor. Finally, Mono-Red Aggro and Zombies won't be happy to face Thragtusk and Restoration Angel after sideboard. And Somberwald Sage plus Angel of Serenity is great against Green-White Aggro."

    Could this deck play a major role in Standard going forward? It has been doing well in both Grand Prix tournaments this weekend---and it's fun to play, too!


  • Feature Match Round 14 - Martin Brenner (Green-White Aggro) vs. Guillaume Bourdinaud (Mono Red Aggro)
    by Frank Karsten

  • Both Martin Brenner from Germany and Guillaume Bourdinaud from France are currently sitting at 11-2 records and have their sights set on their first Grand Prix Top 8. Brenner is playing Green-White with amazing creatures such as Silverblade Paladin and Armada Wurm. Bourdinaud is playing Mono Red Aggro with a ton of 1-drops.

    Game 1

    Brenner started off with Avacyn's Pilgrim into Silverblade Paladin, while Bourdinaud paired Stromkirk Noble with Stonewright on his couple of turns. The creatures exchanged blows, with Bourdinaud unable to block Stromkirk Noble with any of his Humans.

    Guillaume Bourdinaud

    Bourdinaud looked to be winning the damage race, but that changed when Armada Wurm and Wolfir Silverheart came down on Brenner's side of the table. Brenner apparently loves his fatties, who were towering over Bourdinaud's tiny guys.

    Bourdinaud tried to build up for a big Pyreheart Wolf-fueled attack, but it wasn't enough. Brenner used Rancor turned Wolfir Silverheart into a 10/8 trampler, and it closed out the game in short order.

    Martin Brenner 1 - Guillaume Bourdinaud 0

    Game 2

    Bourdinaud started with a nice curve of Stromkirk Noble and Ash Zealot, and tried to keep Brenner off white mana by burning Avacyn's Pilgrim with Pillar of Flame. A second Pilgrim for Brenner stuck around, however, and it allowed him to start casting big monsters again.

    First up was Centaur Healer, which kept Ash Zealot and Stromkirk Noble at bay. Two Gore-House Chainwalker from Bourdinaud tried to smash through Centaur Healer, but soon enough Loxodon Smiter came down to trump the 3/2s. And then Wolfir Silverheart entered the battlefield as well. Despite a great start from Bourdinaud, his creatures were simply too small.

    Martin Brenner

    Brenner made sure to play around a surprise Hellrider by always keeping enough creatures back to block. It was correct to play cautiously, but it wasn't necessary given Bourdinaud's draws: the Frenchman didn't draw anything that could help his tiny creatures get past the huge green monsters, and lost the game to the massive power of Wolfir Silverheart once again.

    Martin Brenner 2 - Guillaume Bourdinaud 0


  • Sunday, 3:52 p.m. – Decktech: G/R/B/U Nightshade Peddler/Izzet Staticaster
    by Frank Karsten

  • "Man, I've played like 200 Constructed queues on Magic Online, but I have never seen this card in my life."
    - One of Jan-Moritz Merkel's opponents from yesterday, after picking up Nightshade Peddler.

    One of the decks of the tournament for me as a coverage writer is the crazy Nightshade Peddler / Izzet Staticaster brew that has been raising eyebrows over the weekend. Yesterday, it was one of the decks that took a player through the day undefeated, and today I looked to find out a little more, sitting down with the two players in Day 2 who are running it: Max Pritsch, who was defeated overnight, and Jan-Moritz Merkel, who had won Pro Tour Kobe back in 2006.

    For reference, here's the list. (Merkel's list is a few cards off due to some last-minute changes, but he told me that Max's list is the better one.)

    I started off by asking how this deck came to be. "We were just looking at random decklists when our eye caught an innovative one from a recent Starcitygames Open," they explained. "This was the Izzet Staticaster / Nightshade Peddler deck that also featured the Deadeye Navigator / Zealous Conscripts / Gilded Lotus infinite mana combo. We didn't get the numbers with all the 2-ofs and 3-ofs, and the Gilded Lotus combo seemed way too cute. But we started brewing, teching out the deck, and caught fire."

    "We liked the idea of Nightshade Peddler, and started looking for additional pingers. We quickly found out about Olivia Voldaren and added it to the deck. Next, we added the Zealous Conscripts / Falkenrath Aristocrat combo. It turned out to be very valuable against control decks like Esper with all their Planeswalkers, where the deathtouch angle isn't very effective."

    "Afterwards, we added Deathrite Shaman and Tracker's Instincts to make the deck more consistent," they continued. "Deathrite Shaman is very good against Reanimator and Blue-White Flash. But Tracker's Instincts is what pushed our deck over the top. There are so many high-impact creatures and combos to find, and decks like Jund cannot keep up with the card generated card advantage unless they have Rakdos's Return."

    Their deck seems very well positioned for the field, as it will eat the most popular deck in Day 2, Green-White Aggro, for breakfast. The Green-White players simply have no way to disrupt the soulbond combo.

    When asked what cards pose problems for the deck, the two German players mentioned hexproof creatures such as Geist of Saint Traft and Sigarda, Host of Herons (because they cannot be targeted with the pingers) and Angel of Serenity (because it will take any soulbond combo apart). But they added Evil Twin to the deck with that in mind, and it is a great answer to those problem cards.

    No deck is complete without a sideboard. In the sideboard, we find some spot removal and life gain to keep up with aggro decks: Pillar of Flame can exile Gravecrawler, and Mizzium Mortars can deal with Loxodon Smiter. The rest of sideboard has been created mainly with the control decks in mind: the discard spells and Snapcaster Mage can be brought in against, say, Esper control, by taking out Izzet Staticaster.

    Going forward, this crazy concoction will be a force to be reckoned with. Merkel and Pritsch recommended to keep the 25 lands because the deck is mana hungry and runs so many colors. They said you could freely adjust the numbers on Huntmaster of the Fells and on the Falkenrath Aristocrat / Zealous Conscripts combo depending on whether you would expect more aggro decks or more control/midrange decks.

    Between crazy combos, turn 3 Olivia Voldaren, and a strong long game, Jan-Moritz Merkel and Max Pritsch have certainly assembled something a very impressive new Standard deck!


  • Sunday, 4:15 p.m. – Decktech: Build Your Own Monster
    by Tobi Henke

  • Geist of Saint Traft is one veritable heck of a monster already, but who's to say you can't improve on that. How about a flying, first-striking, and trampling 9/7 Geist of Saint Traft, for example?

    When Frank Karsten tallied all day-two deck lists for his metagame breakdown earlier today, two in particular caught his eye, precisely because they could indeed produce a flying, first-striking, and trampling 9/7 Geist of Saint Traft. Take a look!

    Both are running Rancor, Spectral Flight, and Ethereal Armor to achieve this amazing feat, and they also have Invisible Stalker to put all their enchantments on, in case they fail to draw Geist of Saint Traft. Usually, it's a risky proposition to pile that many auras on any one creature, but Stalker and Geist are of course hexproof (as is Sigarda, Host of Herons).

    Despite being implementations of the same basic strategy, there are considerable differences between these two lists. Andreas Kontos's deck is trying to go big with mana acceleration and Increasing Savagery, whereas David Demmel's is much more aggressive with Dryad Militant and Fencing Ace. The Ace is particularly interesting, theoretically allowing for an actual turn-three kill. There's definitely some potential here for further brewing ...


  • Sunday, 4:45 p.m. – Decktech: Nivmagus Elemental Aggro with Petr Brozek
    by Frank Karsten

  • The designer of "Brozek Deck Wins", the breakout deck from GP Oakland 2010, is back with another innovative aggro deck: Brozek is the only person battling with Nivmagus Elemental in Bochum today! I tracked him down to pick his brain on the deck. To start off, here is Brozek's list.

    Petr Brozek
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    When asked how the deck came to be, Brozek explained that he was trying to rebuild the Delver deck that was dominating Standard half a year ago, but that Delver of Secrets had gotten worse now that Gitaxian Probe and Ponder had rotated out. "I was looking for another one-drop, and I was surprised that no one was talking about Nivmagus Elemental. It seemed like the new Tarmogoyf to me; it's a Delver that flips all the time if you want. Exiling one spell to make it into a 3/4 is enough. Although I had first cut Delver of Secrets from the deck, I put them back when I saw that Pillar of Flame was on the decline."

    "With Cathedral of War, my deck can consistently attack for 4 on turn 2, and that gives a bunch of free wins," Brozek continued. "My best matchup is Mono Red Aggro. They cannot use burn to deal with Geist of Saint Traft or Nivmagus Elemental. My worst matchup is probably Green-White Aggro. They have so many cheap creatures, which means that I can't get big tempo boosts from Unsummon or Azorius Charm."

    "The deck is nice to play. It gives you so many options each turn. I can use all modes of Azorius Charm, for example. And the more unusual cards, such as Divine Deflection and Faith's Shield, have been very hard for my opponents to play around. Faith's Shield in particular can counter spells, Fog if I'm at less than 5 life, and protect my Nivmagus Elemental--- it's been great."

    Petr Brozek showing off Sleep and Nivmagus Elemental.

    Brozek is currently out of contention for the Top 8, battling in the last round with a 10-5 record. This suggests that his deck is not perfect yet and that it can be tweaked and improved further. For instance, Brozek mentioned that he would consider playing Sleep maindeck as he has been boarding it in a lot and it has been instrumental in getting past Thragtusk.

    Still, his deck looks fun and powerful, and if you're looking for an innovative build to play for Friday Night Magic, then give this deck a spin!


  • Round 15 Feature Match – Benjamin Paulmeier (Red Black) vs. Martijn van der Vaart
    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Only 2 more rounds until we'll know who'll advance to the Top 8 of Grand Prix Bochum. This is where it counts the most and where you'll need good nerves to pull through.

    We invited Benjamin Paulmeier and Martijn van der Vaart on the Feature Match table; the winner will still have a chance to advance to the knock out portion of the tournament while the less fortunate player will have to walk away with some shattered dreams.

    Game 1

    Both players kept their opening hands and Paulmeier wasted no time, casting an Unleashed Rakdos Cackler. It dealt 2 the following turn, another Rakdos Cackler came down and van der Vaart desperately tried to keep the pace with Augur of Bolas, adding Sphinx's Revelation to his hand.

    Searing Spear dealt with Augur of Bolas, clearing the way for attacks with both Rakdos Cacklers. Since van der Vaart didn't perform any actions his following turn, he took another 4 from the attacks. Paulmeier tried adding more threats: One of his Diregraf Ghouls met its master in Essence Scatter while the other one stuck.

    Van der Vaart kept playing passively, only adding a fourth land. Paulmeier went in for it, but Restoration Angel came down, blocking one of the Rakdos Cacklers. Paulmeier finally found a third land, allowing him to cast Geralf's Messenger.

    The following turn, Unsummon stopped the attack of Geralf's Messenger, Restoration Angel blocked Diregraf Ghoul, but Rakdos Cackler dealt 2, leaving van der Vaart on 2. Paulmeier passed with 3 lands ready, telegraphing an instant.

    Still, the Dutch player kept his cool, added a sixth land his following turn and passed with only an untapped Restoration Angel in play.

    Would a lonely Restoration Angel be enough to stop Paulmeier from wrapping it up?

    An instant Brimstone Volley by Paulmeier got countered, the first Bump in the Night the next turn met the same fate, however, a second copy meant that Paulmeier would come out on top the first game! "That's a lot of burn...", van der Vaart replied slightly shocked.

    Benjamin Paulmeier 1 – 0 Martijn van der Vaart

    "Against what deck did you draw?" a surprised van der Vaart questioned his opponent. "Esper Control," Paulmeier replied. "The second game took a lot longer than it should have..."

    Game 2

    This time, it would be van der Vaart sitting in the driver's seat, however, Paulmeier felt confident he could steal the initiative when he opened with an Unbound Rakdos Cackler.

    Azorius Charm sent it right back, causing Paulmeier to play it again and also add a second copy.

    Paulmeier didn't want to give van der Vaart time to ever equip the artifact!

    All van der Vaart could muster up was Runechanter's Pike. The Rakdos Cacklers went in again, Paulmeier added Geralf's Messenger and a Thought Scour from van der Vaart, sending Azorius Charm and Snapcaster Mage to his graveyard, concluding the turn.

    Van der Vaart cast Supreme Verdict, which meant Paulmeier would be left with only Geralf's Messenger thanks to its Undying ability.

    The Zombie went in, leaving van der Vaart on 8. Another Rakdos Cackler and Diregraf Ghoul came down. Van der Vaart now had to go big or go home!

    He drew for his turn, checked his life totals once again, but eventually offered the handshake, not finding a way to stop all of Paulmeier's threats.

    Benjamin Paulmeier 2 – 0 Martijn van der Vaart


  • Cool Plays - The Many Uses of Rancor
    by Frank Karsten

  • I overheard some pretty sweet plays this weekend. Two in particular stood out, and they both involved Rancor.

    The first involved a Green-Black-Red Zombie player who had enchanted Geralf's Messenger with Rancor. His opponent, an Esper control player at 7 life, had the seemingly perfect answer in Pacifism. This is a card that the deck builders amongst you should definitely keep in mind when Rancor is a thing in the format. But the story doesn't end here. On the subsequent turn, the Esper control player was wondering whether or not he should leave up any Negate mana or whether it would be safe to play Sphinx's Revelation for the full amount. At 7 life and facing an untapped Blackcleave Cliffs, untapped Overgrown Tomb, and the 5/3 Geralf's Messenger, he figured there was nothing in the format that would be threatening enough to Negate and put all of his mana into Sphinx's Revelation. Well, he hadn't taken Fling into consideration. Geralf's Messenger dealt 5 damage, and then came back from the grave for the final and lethal 2 points. So, even if Rancor is taken out by Pacifism, its +2/+0 effect can still be the difference between a win and a loss!

    The second play involved a Green-White Aggro player who was losing to his opponent's Ravager of the Fells. The Green-White player had Selesnya Charm in hand, but that wouldn't deal with a creature with 4 power or less. The solution was found in the fact that you can play Rancor on your opponent's creatures as well. So he played Rancor on Ravager of the Fells, subsequently exiled it with Selesnya Charm, and moved on to win the match!

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